It may seem rather unfashionable to rely on a computer to determine the next season’s hot clothes, but that’s exactly what fashion CAD artists do. CAD (which stands for computer-aided drafting) artists don’t let computers drone their creativity down to nothing; they harness the power of computer drafting to create models of bodies and clothes, which reduces costs and speeds up the clothes production process. As fashion CAD artists sketch out their designs on the computer, they sketch their way to better salaries as well.
While the income of fashion artists varies widely depending on success and celebrity, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2009 national average for the field put annual wages at $74,410. CAD artists looking to clothe themselves in a higher salary should investigate the Department of Labor’s list of highest-paying industries for the field, with the motion picture and video industry paying the highest 2009 average of $92,850. The wholesale electronic market also paid fashion CAD artists higher than the national average at $92,700.
The two states (New York and California) offering 2009’s highest employment per capita for CAD fashion artists surprisingly did not top the list of states with the highest salaries. New Hampshire took that honor with an annual mean wage of $85,460. Maine came in second at $81,540, with California just behind at $81,490. New York placed fifth (behind Connecticut) with an average salary of $79,800, still higher than the average.
While entry into the fashion design field may range from selling clothes on a personal website to winning a national fashion television show, fashion CAD artists must take extra steps to earn their salaries. Coursework in CAD is available through associate degree and bachelor degree programs, including options at 300 accredited National Association of Schools of Art and Design programs. Computer skills are required just as much as a taste for fashion and clothes.
Fashion CAD artists will face a competitive environment for job opportunities, predicts the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS expects just a 1 percent increase in jobs, or 200 additional jobs, through 2018 due to the competitiveness and longevity in the field. Fashion CAD artists specializing in mass-market and low-priced designs will have the best success breaking into the field.